The results of the Tiger Response Team (TRT) efforts between 2000 and 2009 in the Russian Far East has been examined by a team of researchers led by John Goodrich. The TRT has been established in 1999 by Inspection Tiger (Ministry for Natural Resources, Russian Federation) with the goal of reducing threats and perceived threats caused by tigers to humans, and reducing tiger mortality associated with human-tiger conflict. So far, Russia is the first country ever with a government team dedicated to respond to human-tiger conflicts.
The researchers examined data of 202 human-Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) conflicts. They saw that the number of attacks on humans, dogs and domestic livestock were highest in winter. Tiger depredation on domestic animals was the most common type of conflict reported (57%), with the highest death rate for dogs, probably because livestock is well managed and protected. The least common were tiger attacks on humans (9%). Nineteen attacks on humans were recorded resulting in 11 injuries and 2 deaths.
To achieve the goal of reducing the tiger threat TRT kills the predating tigers or removes them from area, which is different from before 1999 when only intervention by bullet resolved a tiger problem. It appeared that all but 1 of 20 tigers that were killed or removed from the wild by the TRT were considered unfit to survive in the wild. The attacks on humans were most often (77%) by wounded tigers, with 80% of the tiger’s injuries caused by humans. Furthermore, 47% of the attacks were provoked. It was reported that occasionally a tiger may come into a village seeking foor because it is injured and unable to hunt. Medical care and rehabilitation can allow tigers to return to the wild, which is of utmost importance for this endangered species, estimated population in the wild: 349 – 415.
The effectiveness of TRT’s interventions regarding the reduction of depredation on domestic animals was unclear, but the removal of injured and other unhealthy tigers from the wild by the TRT resulted in fewer human deaths. The investigating team recommend that the TRT continues their work to reduce conflict by rapidly removing debilitated tigers from the wild, to explore different methods and technologies for reducing depredation on domestic animals. In addition the TRT should increase their efforts to maintain tigers in the wild through telemetry monitoring, translocation, and rehabilitation of orphaned cubs. This should not be restricted to the Amur area only, but conducted across tiger landscapes in Asia to allow rapid assessment of interventions.
(Source: BBC Earth News, 24.12.2010; Biological Conservation, January 2011)